Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I did it, I did it, I did it - HOORAY!

My scrappy trip around the world is DONE! I actually did it! Really done, sandwiched and ready to be quilted - not by me I'm thrilled to say. This thing is huge and while I do suffer from quilt guilt (that feeling that you should be quilting it yourself - tell me I'm not the only one who suffers from this) but it's just too big for my machine. And my patience ;-)
I mostly feel like I'm the world's slowest sew-er, it's just a fact. I'm a slow sew-er and an over-pinner. I'm thinking about starting a local support group - anybody else have these issues? So I sometimes get a bit down when I feel like I'm not finishing a project as fast as everyone else. But this time I tried to not listen to the critical voice, the doubt, the criticism and just keep working. I felt like I was sewing every free minute for the past few weeks and my dear husband kept saying "HOW many of these blocks are you making?!" and "how BIG is this quilt going to be?!" while he watched in disbelief. In reality it took me three weeks and three days, not forever. The other fact is that I LOVE it and it was worth every minute I spent sewing on it.
My opinionated child picked out this fabric for the backing from Pink Castle Fabrics - have you seen her sale section? Amazing. I bought 5 yards and had about a third of a yard extra. I was thinking a fun striped binding but with all this quilt has going on I think it really just wants a solid binding - probably blue if my child has any say.
What did I learn from this project?
- I sewed together all my strip sets and then tubes, then cut them all, ironed and pinned them into sets. This step-by-step process keep me organized and focused and I'll do it this way again.
- Next time I'll use a smaller stitch length as I'm sewing the strips together so that they don't come apart as they get unpicked and sewn together.
- I tried to use a light/dark pattern for my strips (roughly) and in the end I found the most important thing to me was having one really dark (or different) value strip to be the center of each block.
- Stop worrying about how fast or slow you're going - just keep working and it will get done.
- I will be making more of these! The feeling of exhilaration I got from seeing it all put together was amazing. Plus it really is so beautiful, not perfect but still gorgeous. A good life lesson, yes?

You can find the original tutorial here on Quiltville plus a gazillion pictures on Instagram under the hash tag #scrappytripalong :-) Thanks to Brenda of Pink Castle and Katy from I'm A Ginger Monkey for starting this wonderful madness.

Now I am going to go eat a brownie and put my feet up!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scrappy Trip Progress

It might not look that impressive but SIXTEEN blocks done! Yay! Now only 20 more to go ;-)

These go together pretty quickly but finding spare minutes to sew them has been a challenge of late, so instead of being jealous of everyone who finished one in a week I'm trying to be happy about my progress. I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

I doubt this will be the final arrangement but then again, it may well be since my extremely stubborn, opinionated child is insisting on arranging them (and I'm starting to worry that she might have a photographic memory as she KNOWS every time they're in a different order - seriously).

This was the one "finish" I picked for the month of January. Will I make it? Check back next week and I'll let you know :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Divided Basket Pattern from Anna at Noodlehead

 First let me warn you that this is for certain the most photo-filled blog post ever. What can I say? I was excited! I had the good fortune to meet Anna Graham, the mastermind over at Noodlehead, at Sewing Summit last year. You know how you feel like you know someone from knowing their online presence? And then you meet them in real life and they are not at all what you thought (hello online dating)..well this meeting was the exact opposite of that. Anna is as kind and gracious and fun in real life as I suspected/hoped she might be. So when she asked me last week if I'd like to test her new basket pattern I was thrilled. Her patterns are some of my favorites, not just because of the great designs but because she really knows how to write (and photograph) a pattern - clearly and thoughtfully, so it all makes sense and you feel like you've learned something in the end.

This divided basket pattern is a great example of that - I was nervous about the divider but two more and may have another couple in the works.
This is the divided basket pattern with a canvas home decorator weight fabric on the exterior and a quilting cotton on the interior. I used Pellon 987 Fusible Fleece on the exterior and Shape Flex on the lining and divider. After I tried it this way I decided that I like it just fine without the lining being interfaced. One tip on the fusible fleece: cut it a half inch shorter than the pattern height and it'll be easier to fold it over in the last step when you join the lining and exterior.

Wouldn't this make a great baby shower gift?
 Alternate use: all those teeny tiny toys you accumulate as the kiddo gets older, many, many of them.
 For this version I used Essex Linen on the exterior with Home Decor Bond fusible interfacing - this gave it a great crispness with the softness of the fusible fleece - this was my favorite interfacing choice. I used Shape Flex on one side of the divider. I also made this a scrappy basket using four different fabrics on the interior and a contrasting Kona solid on the divider and handles.
 A great way to use some of those precious fabric scraps!
 Alternate use: organize your fabric stash - just so much nicer looking than a pile. Ahem.
Lastly, I used the exterior piece for the lining pattern as well and made this one a non-divided basket. This basket goes together so ridiculously fast. Gray Essex Linen on the exterior of this one and a Kaffe quilting cotton on the inside. Fusible Fleece on the exterior. Great for knitting/crochet supplies.
 Corralling all the stuff for a new project!
 Or, you know, barbie basket. Everyone needs one, right?
I also made a faux-covered handle on this one because I didn't have the right color webbing and I'd do almost anything to not leave the house when it's 38 degrees outside. Want to see how?
 The normal basket handles are 9", in my sample I made them 7" (totally not by accident, just wanted to try out a different length) - make them whatever length you'd like! Cut the exterior handle piece 2" wide and the contrasting handle piece 3" wide.
 Line them up, right sides together and sew the length of the your handle pieces. I used a 1/4" seam allowance.
 Now just kind of roll the extra over to the side you just sewed and sew the remaining long side.
 Iron the seam allowances toward your exterior piece.
 Turn right side out and iron! Voila! A faux-covered handle! You'll feel very clever after this ;-)
Then I sewed along the two (in the ditch if you're a quilter) to give it a more finished look. Use in the pattern just as the other handle pieces. I didn't bother to interface my handle but you could - I'd use Shape Flex and probably just put it on the exterior piece (but you could do either).

Thanks to Anna for having me test this fun pattern!

Go give it and all Anna's other great patterns a look - I hope you enjoy sewing your baskets as much as I enjoyed sewing mine! If you need anymore info or have any questions please feel free to email me and thanks for stopping by :-)

Tomorrow: Scrappy Trip Around the World progress!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Easy Peanut Butter Bars

How ARE you guys?! I feel like I haven't been here in FOR-ever (it's been like a week, I know, I sometimes exaggerate - or so my husband tells me ;-)

Last week was just one of those busy weeks, full of life and I've been sewing every spare minute I can find - can't wait to catch you up!

But first, a quick, easy, yummy Peanut Butter Blondie recipe - all good things in a bar cookie. We here in Atlanta we obviously crushed last weekend when the Falcons lost their bid to head to the Superbowl but we comforted ourselves with BBQ, Buffalo Chicken Dip and these tasty treats.

Peanut Butter Blondies

1 18.25 oz yellow or butter cake mix
6 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 C creamy peanut butter (not natural style)

1 12oz bag chocolate chips or peanut butter/chocolate chip mix

Mix all ingredients except chips in large bowl on medium speed until thick, creamy and well-mixed. Stir chips in with spoon. Spread batter in a foil-lined and greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes - until middle is just set (don't overbake).

Let cool and frost with Chocolate Pan Frosting - cut and enjoy!

Stop back by tomorrow and Friday to see what I've sewing away at the past week-ish, good stuff going on over here!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thank you and scrappy trip update

I just wanted to send a big THANK YOU to Debbie at A Quilter's Table - I won her very generous prize from Pink Chalk Fabrics for linking up with Tuesday at the Table during December. I love sharing what I'm making, food or fabric, but a gift certificate from Pink Chalk was fantastic icing on the cake! I was out of town watching all the scrappy trip along blocks start to spread across Instagram like a wildfire and I was SO antsy to get home and get in on the fun - I comforted myself with buying a couple of Kona Jelly Rolls from Pink Chalk to make a scrappy trip with all solids. Thanks again Quilter's Table!! :-)
Of course practically the instant we got home I started ironing and cutting fabric strips with scraps and odd FQ's - this turned out to be a great project for all those multi-colored FQ's that I loved when I bought but had no idea what to do with. So I just kept cutting and cutting and cutting and I ended up with enough strips to make 36 blocks - crazy. So I have sewn all the strips together and into tubes and I'm going to slice and un-pick them tonight.
I did sew up a few blocks to see how they're going to look and I think it's going to be probably the happiest thing I've ever sewn! I let Harper help me sort the strips into groups of 6 by letting her pick 3 warm and 3 cool strips and she enjoyed the sorting/grouping a LOT. So much that she's already claimed this for her own! AND she keeps asking me "Is my quilt done yet Mom?"...aahhh, no honey, not yet. I'm not Katy after all who I think is on her second or possibly third one already! But I'm going to keep chugging away and it and the blocks really do sew up quite fast so I'm still hopeful that I can get it done this month :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A bag I'm proud of.

It might not look that exciting but this bag completely thrills me because it's the very first ting EVER that I've made without a pattern. Well, except for my own pattern that I wrote out! I'm not a math person, I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person. I like patterns and tutorials and directions.

But I wanted to make something all my own and I did. It felt GREAT - I love saying YES when someone asks if I've made the bag I'm carrying! I love bags but it's not always in the budget to buy all the cute ones I spy on etsy so I'm on a mission to start making the things I want (as well as supporting shops I love when I can). There are a few changes I'd make in this bag next time but nothing major.

Quilter's Linen on the outside, Washi on the inside - vintage button pin also made by me :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One Little Word :: 2013

Last year I agonized over my OLW - it took me what felt like forever to choose Happiness as my word. But it served me well in 2012, I felt like I used it as a guiding principle and it really did change the choices I made. I looked at what made me truly feel fulfilled and content. I realized that the proverbial cup is always half empty AND half full at the same time - you have to choose which half you focus on. I've come to realize that happiness, true happiness is a wonderful compass to live your life by. It's a word that has become a foundation for me and I don't feel like I'm through with it as much as I'm building on it.

After how hard it was to choose for 2012 I started thinking maybe in September or even August what my word would be for 2013, and in came in an instant "your word for 2013 is going to be climb" a little whisper in my soul. What? Seriously? "Climb", really? I am not someone who as ever looked at a mountain and thought "I need to climb that". I'm afraid of heights for crying out loud! But still, there it was and it felt right. Feels right. I'm trying to let go of the need to rationalize it or even understand it. I'm just trying to be open to the climb this year and see where it leads me.

"You're off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So...get on your way!"

Dr. Seuss

2013 :: Climb

Have One Little Word for 2013? I'd love to hear what it is!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mocha Muffins

 I've decided it's going to Muffin Month around here! Two reasons why: it makes me giggle to say "Muffin Month" and I'm trying to change our morning-biscuit-at-Chik-fil-a routine (which happens more mornings than I'd like to admit since we live a mile from the very first Chik-fil-a) to something healthier. Enter my current muffin fascination!

I'm not saying these are super healthy but I'm telling myself they had to be better than fast food AND they were pretty yummy. So here you go: Mocha Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins!

Mocha Muffins

1/2 C warm water
1 T instant coffee

1 egg, beaten
1/2 C milk
1/2 C oil (or melted butter)

1 1/2 C flour
1/3 C brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C chocolate chips

Mix the coffee into the warm water to dissolve, then add the other wet ingredients to mix. Don't add the egg to the coffee water when it's still hot or you'll scramble your egg!!

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then add the wet to the dry, stirring just to combine.

Bake in lined or greased muffin tin - makes 12
350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes

- I used white whole wheat flour, I like the nuttiness and heartier consistency it gives these
- I might try to cut the oil in this recipe to a 1/3 or a 1/4 C next time, it just seemed like a lot of oil but they were moist as a result
- you could leave the nuts out completely
- we have one of the coffee/sugar grinder's from Trader Joe's so I gave each muffin a grind to fancy them up, totally optional
- my husband (who is a coffee drinker) wanted a more pronounced coffee flavor in these, I (who am not a coffee drinker) liked the mellow mocha flavor in this recipe which is just to say throw more instant coffee in if you like the flavor of it :-)

Linking up with Debbie at A Quilter's Table for Tuesday at the Table!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New year, new project

After all the hustle and bustle of the BIG holiday dies down I knew it might be a bit of an adjustment for my little person who had been marking the days off faithfully each morning on the calendar and moving Santa every day as she waited for THE BIG DAY to finally arrive. When you're three and you see Christmas shows on PBS the week of Thanksgiving it is a) very hard to understand how long away it is and b) even harder to then understand that it will end. Abruptly. So I planned a new family project for us to work on in the New Year and I wrapped it all up and we opened it New Year's Day as one last thing to open - a soft landing for 2013.
When I was lucky enough to win Gwen's birthday giveaway last year I was introduced to Smash books and they are AWESOME. You can check them out at Target and Michael's, along with all the fun stuff they have to go along with them. They were the inspiration for these books - journals that my husband was kind enough to help me put together with xerox paper and scrap-booking paper covers. He made small blank calendars that we glued in the front of each book, one for each month of the the year. You need a long arm stapler to make this project easier - if you have little people at home it's totally worth the purchase price to be able to make blank books anytime.
Then I bought all kins of fun art supplies and things to use inside our books. I'm not going to lie - that date stamper from Office Depot makes me giddy. Yes, I am a school/office supply nerd. Totally fine with it! So the idea is to do one page per day with drawings, painting, stickers, things we glue/tape inside - really anything goes. For me it's about a record of her growth and enjoying the creative process with her.
And I know we may not really do one page each day but it's so fun watching Harper's drawing and writing skills evolve and change I figure they'll be fun to look back on no matter how they end up getting filled. She absolutely LOVES to cut and glue right now so I suspect that might be most of January. That plus STICKERS, we can't ever get enough stickers :-)
She loved opening the box and was thrilled to have one last gift. I'm thrilled to be making things together as a family, starting with the creation of this gift and continuing with the journals all year. One of my goals is to have the TV on less and I need all the creative help I can get! So we have the January book out now along with her art supplies and we've added to it on a couple of different days - I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Oh and when we woke up on the 26th and she said "when is Santa coming again" and we explained not until next December, she just shrugged and said she's start Santa again. And she did, right back at day one. I have a feeling we are going to have a LOT more explaining to do on January 25th.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Year of Lovely Finshes

My Button I've been seeing this button popping up on some of my favorite blogs this week and I decided to play along. I love the motivation to check some of my many WIP's off the list this year and focusing on one project each month seems completely manageable. Sew Bittersweet and Fiber of All Sorts are hosting this fun, year long party and you can find the linky party for January Goals right here.

Of course my real goal is to finish one quilt, one article of clothing (for myself or the kiddo) and one bag each month. Maybe a little less manageable but it's still my goal! We'll see come December whether I'm fooling myself or not - should be entertaining either way ;-)

So this month I am going to finish my scrappy trip around the world - surely you've seen them sweeping Instagram like a wildfire? There's a flickr group too! It seems like they're everywhere and with good reason - easy, addictive and you can stash bust with them. So I've already cut all my strips (I think) and I'm starting to sew them all together. Harper helped me put the strips into sets of 6 by choosing three warm and three cool AND she keeps calling it "my quilt. Honestly I love working with her on projects so I'm fine with that, but the next one will be mine! Teehee.

So here's my Lovely Finish for January - my scrappy trip quilt. I'm excited!

We took a little vacation last week but we're back and life gets back to normal starting first thing tomorrow. See you back here then?

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